While wrapped in the suspense of Conrad's desparate odyssey across Oakland to claim his car before the impound yard closes, I realized that LiteratureWhile wrapped in the suspense of Conrad's desparate odyssey across Oakland to claim his car before the impound yard closes, I realized that Literature, at least as to plots and conflict, falls on either side of a great divide -- everything written before the mid 1990s and all that came and will come after the common use of cell phones. For crying out loud, even tribes in remote jungles have phones and calling plans. Poor Conrad (Wolfe's young protagonist) of the pre-cell-phone-era has to endure urine-fouled phone booths and desimated yellow pages to say nothing of having cash wired to him. I recently had dealings with a homeless man who, though he obviously hadn't bathed in months and manifested a compulsive-obsessive personality disorder, was able to correct a rather complex payment error by whipping out his shiney new cell phone and speed dialing a responsible relative in another state. The thought just ocurred to me that Wolfe, in his first post cell-phone-era novel(see I AM CHARLOTTE SIMMONS), has created a protagonist who also doesn't have a cell phone. Although Charlotte Simmon's room mate spends her every conscious moment on her cell, Charlotte calls her beloved family and her closest friend only once on a pay phone in a whole semester. Of course, Charlotte's lack of cell phone sophistication is part of her back-woods naivete (innocence?). By 2008, however, there probably are not many young people even in Charlotte's "liddle ole" Sparta, North Carolina without a cell phone.
Contemporary fiction writers are required to be cell-phone-conscious. Their characters must use or not use their cells with a degree of believability. The line between in person dialogue and phone dialogue has been blurred. Our cell conversations are conciously shared with friends in the same room. In-person dialogue can be interrupted mid-sentence with cell-phone dialogue and the subsequent dialogue can be overlapping. My sister-in-law, for example, will respond to my brother when I'm talking to him on my cell because she can hear what I'm saying across the room. Therefor, when I'm speaking to him I'm also conscious that I'm speaking to her. The whole dramatic convention of only hearing one side of a phone conversation may no longer--pardon the pun--ring true. This is to say nothing of texting and video phones....more
If your American paradigm includes an historical view of European settlers desecrating the "Forest Primeval," guess again! Recent archeological and anIf your American paradigm includes an historical view of European settlers desecrating the "Forest Primeval," guess again! Recent archeological and anthropological discoveries have revealed that the Pre-Columbrian Americas were vastly more populated and civilized than we had previously believed. For example, Spanish explorers of the 1500s discovered a Mississippi River lined with villages trading up and down the river; French explorers of the 1600s, on the other hand, encountered a heavily forested and nearly deserted wilderness along this great river. What happened during the 16th Century to so alter what Archeology has discovered were numerous unique, populous, and incrediblely advanced civilizations? An enormous catastrophe, scientists have hypothesized, due in large part to European ignorance and a certain genetic predisposition common to Native Americans.
J. K. Rowling's compilation of the current science concerning the Americas before 1491 reads like an anthropologist astronaut's logue chronicling advanced alien civilizations on a distant planet. Imagine structural engineers capable of designing suspension bridges over huge chasms and highways of masonry for thousands of miles through some of the most rugged terrain on the face of the earth. Picture a city larger than Paris in the middle of a huge lake built entirely on Venetian-like canals navigated by sail boats. Consider a civilization which converts the dense Amazon jungle into a vast Eden-like garden of exotic fruit bearing plants and trees.
Most Anthropology 101 college courses are excrutiatingly tedious. 1941, on the contrary, is an amazing adventure. ...more